Thursday, April 24, 2008

Armenian Genocide Victims?

As April 24th approaches each and every year, Armenians all over the world commemorate the single greatest tragedy that ever befell the Armenian people in collective memory. In brief, the Ottoman Turkish Empire that had rules large regions of West Asia and the Balkans had dissolved to a point where chaos ruled, and a scapegoat was needed to divert from inherent problems present due to dysfunctional governing, and poor economic policy. Armenians, having been inhabitants of the region for thousands of years, predating the Turks by at least 2,000 years, were singled out and labeled as traitors to the Turkish cause, and were massacred by well over a million individuals. Nearly all the survivors were subsequently displaced, and fled to establish the global Armenian Diaspora that remains to this day. Similarly, the Greek and Assyrian inhabitants of the region (also predating the Turks by thousands of years), where also summarily massacred and displaced. As these populations were considered disloyal, due to their Christian backgrounds, and ethnic independence, they were wiped off the modern face of what's now Turkey. From the late 19th Century, to the peak during World War I, and the subsequent years that lasted well into World War II, millions of individuals were killed, with their history and their ties to the region severed. The thousands of years of architecture, books, language, music, and other such unique aspects to culture were lost forever. It is therefore of no surprise that Armenians identify themselves as victims, and to this very day, believe that the world owes them an apology. Through the eyes of such enlightened entities as Western Europe, the United States, and Russia, the Genocide perpetrated against the Armenians lasted for well over 20 years. Feeling as though this inaction was a crime in itself, Armenians have been pushing for at least half a century to have the world recognize the Armenian Genocide as they recognize the Nazi Holocaust. They associate themselves with other victims, such as the Jews of Europe, and blame many cultural problems on this collective trauma. The fact is that although it is the moral duty of any rational and enlightened country to recognize a Genocide, Armenians are owed nothing. We must realize that our cultural intensity should be directed at greater problems than the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. The true victims of the Genocide are no longer among us, but the survivors are not just victims, but individuals with the power of an entire culture to draw from. As hard as the Genocide was on the Armenian psyche, our culture rebounded from these atrocities with a greater drive and intensity. We were no longer inhabitants of a backward quasi-imperialistic entity, but inhabitants that have spread our culture across the world.

As Armenians around the world debate within the legislative branches of their governments for Genocide Recognition, their resources could be better aimed at actually assisting an entity that has managed to emerge from the ashes of such trauma. The Republic of Armenia, as small as it is in area, landlocked and surrounded with barren terrain, is still a soil that is sovereign and independent. After nearly three thousand years of constant battles, an internationally recognized constitutional state has emerged. The obstacles have been numerous, and every advance seems to highlight areas that seem to have recessed or stagnated. Recently, Armenia has been through the most divisive issue that has surfaced in this infant Republic. As the Presidential Elections of 2008 approached, the opposition, lead by the formerly disgraced President of Armenia (Levon Ter Petrossian), staged a massive and violent protest, aimed at the apparently corrupt rule of the outgoing President Robert Kocharian. This protest released a lot of resentment building up within Armenia, regarding those that aim for Western influence, and others who are reliant on Russian influence. As has been the case in Armenian history, the region has become a volatile place of world powers, aiming to deftly, as well as overtly, influence Armenia's future. Armenia has once again become a buffer state, that can be manipulated and manhandled. As the international Armenian community uses their well intentioned influences towards Genocide Recognition, Armenia teeters on the brink of chaos. The possibility of losing the sovereign nation that has spent well over 700 years to regain sovereignty seems to bypass the minds of many Genocide Activists. If Armenians cannot unite and organize to save the Republic, then what good is Genocide Recognition? As the world watches, Armenians are killing each other over foreign influence of the region while a great opportunity for advancement and modernization passes by as quietly as the wing flaps of an owl.

Having just highlighted the problems that have come from tunnel vision focusing squarely on Genocide Recognition, the possibilities of reinventing ourselves is infinite. Armenians need look no further then modern states to see how a small nation, with seemingly few resources can become a major player and partner to the modern global economy. As an example, Singapore, even in the 1950's, was largely an agricultural and rural country. Yet, within a few decades, it had become powerful enough to lead the world in certain industrial and financial sectors. As of late, many biotechnology companies have moved there to embrace the growing sector that's become the focal point of asian economics and future development. Switzerland is another example of what a country, in this case, one with many different linguistic and ethnic groups, can accomplish if they unite for a common purpose. Armenians, having a shared culture, need not have the ethnic concerns that governed Switzerland, yet, as far as banking and finance are concerned, no other country in the world can compete with Switzerland. Although banking has become a global business, and very difficult to establish as an entity similar to Switzerland, information technology, biotechnology, and modern research and development can be key in Armenia's future. If Armenia can establish a transit hub for technology linking Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, the possibilities are endless. Although there are many drawbacks towards being landlocked in a contentious area of the world, one of the benefits is that it becomes a transit point for economics. Even as far back as the Silk Road, Armenia had been the midpoint of trade between China and Europe. This kind of hub mentality could definitely translate to the modern global economy. As Armenians around the world reinvent themselves, and shake off the victim label that they so proudly wear, much more can be accomplish. We can help to steer Armenia into having the internal strength and equality to many powers of the region, and for once, control our own destiny as a people. No more shall we be prey towards the tide of political influence, begging for scraps at the table, when we could proudly become equal trade partners to many areas of the world. The Armenian Diaspora, along with the Republic of Armenia can finally focus on something beyond Genocide Recognition and declaring to the world that Armenia was the first to declare Christianity as a State Religion. These days, who really cares about either of those two things besides Armenians? What matters most is where we will be as a people, and a culture a century from now. Will we remain pawns in the global game of power and influence, or will we finally break free of these bonds and declare ourselves active participants of the Modern world economy? This is the question that every Armenian, both foreign and domestic, must ask themselves.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Futile Attempts for a Purpose in Life

It is often the case that as people try to find purpose in life, they often redefine the universe to suit their feelings. Often, they feel they know the truth, and that by just closing their eyes, and touching the spirit of the universe, the truth is revealed to them. These people are not necessarily religious, not in the organized sense. In fact, many moderate religious people believe that there is some truth in all religions, and often attempt to explain that they all lead to a similar path of supposed enlightenment. It's as though all the roads lead to a place that they seek, and from which some type of esoteric truth can be discerned. The actual truth is that human curiosity can lead to numerous imaginary, but false roads, when in fact, a decent rudimentary knowledge of science can actually illuminate the processes that govern our universe. Outside of any solipsism, where one believes that their own mind is the only reality that exists, and all others are subject to one's unique thought processes, the physical properties of our universe are there to be uncovered and understood through the empirical and rigorous process of the scientific method. Besides a world-view entrenched in solipsism, we can make a few general assumptions governing properties of our universe that we can use to explain the emerging physics, chemistry, and biology found within. Of primary importance is to realize that there are certain physical laws common throughout the length and breath of the universe, and that these laws have resulted in complex interactions that have lead from random fluctuations in quantum physics, to arrangements of atoms into chemical structures. Furthermore, we know that in at least one closed environment (the Earth), the natural laws were favorable for chemical reactions that lead to complex information carrying molecules which subsequently arranged themselves into biological structures, eventually leading to the human species. With mountains of data in various different scientific disciplines, there is very little contrary evidence to this. Naturally, gaps in the processes that lead to life on earth do exist, but as we progress, both technically and scientifically, we come to understand a great deal more. As old questions are answered, countless new ones are generated, and the accumulative power of the scientific method is strengthened. Furthermore, with the discovery of extra-terrestrial life, using comparative methods, we may indeed get nearer to understand how life got a foothold, and perhaps to define life itself. Still, even with all of this scientific progress, there are spiritual types who believe that we are all bound by some undefined energies link us all together in some kind of soul or spirit (depending on who is asked, some believe that every living being has a soul, others that every object within the universe, and still others that only sentient, self-aware life). These people are just hoping for something, out of fear, comfort, and ignorance. They are far from stupid people, in fact, many are very intelligent. Yet, they compartmentalize their minds and due to a highly active emotional response, keep areas of their brain from letting go of constructed garbage, and in doing so, accepting credulous nonsense. These days, the credulous things have evolved towards new-aged religions. It's an offshoot of principles from their indoctrinated traditional religious views, mixed and melded with tolerant principles of other religions. They have drifted from defining a sense of God in a personified form, into defining it as the "binding spirit" of the universe. In essence then, defining God as the prime mover, or the prime observer, or the binding energy of everything, for some just living things, while for others, all that is matter and energy combined. It all sounds wonderfully poetic and meaningful, but ultimately childish. It's hard to break this attachment to a higher authority, and realize that we're on our own as human beings. All we have for comfort and support are other human beings. This understanding will not destroy civilization but save it from religious hysteria, illogic, and inherent hypocrisy. Progress is possible, even with the interjection of spirituality in daily life, but ultimately, the process is slowed by archaic notions and traditionalists who attempt to define reality by altering the governing processes of the universe.